A-Day game leads to chaos in T-Town

Image from TPD Facebook post

When the hybrid bar restaurant Twelve/25 applied for its liquor license in 2019, Stephanie Taylor reported in the Tuscaloosa News:

“We want to create a restaurant and sports bar unlike anything on the Strip, or Tuscaloosa for that matter,” said Mobile resident Josh Boone, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from The University of Alabama. He’s one of three businessmen who invested in the business, hiring a consultant to help with marketing plans and other preparations.

“We’re so passionate about this project,” he said at a June 4 City Council meeting, when the group went before the council for liquor license approval. They said at the time they hoped to open by the first Alabama home game on Sept. 7, but renovations on the decades-old building took longer than expected.

At the first hearing, [Tuscaloosa Mayor] Maddox asked whether the business would appeal to customers other than college students.

“This speaks to the three things I love in life: beer, food and sports,” Maddox said.

More recently Mayor Walt Maddox has had some reservations about hybrid/bar restaurants.

As reported by Jason Morton in the Tuscaloosa News, Mayor Maddox “intends to target business owners that he believes are operating beyond the scope and boundary of the business and alcohol licenses that they had been awarded by the City Council.”

Some of the problems on The Strip that occurred which were related to the A-Day game weekend, according to Tuscaloosa Police Department Chief Brent Blankley, were created when people from out of town responded to social media posts made by bars. He said that a performance by Nle Choppa, a rap artist from Tennessee who “glorifies violence in his music,” drew many of the people to The Strip on the night of April 16th, 2021.

Emily Enfinger reported on the A-Day game weekend incidents in the Tuscaloosa News:

Tuscaloosa police responded to a total of 271 calls for service on the day of the A-Day game, the 24-hour period from early Saturday morning through early Sunday morning.

Several incidents that occurred overnight resulted in multiple arrests and six weapons, including an AK-47, being confiscated by police, according to a Tuscaloosa police news release. 

The concerns of District 4 City Council member Lee Busby were reported by Jason Morton. Busby said that “he was open to reviewing the city’s current entertainment districts, where laws governing  open containers and public consumption of alcohol are relaxed, while questioning whether some businesses justify the expense of protecting them.”

“We may need to examine what this business is worth to the city of Tuscaloosa,” Busby said, “and how many casualties we’re willing to endure as a result of it.”

The crowd that gathered after the A-Day game was reminiscent of the celebratory activities on The Strip that occurred after the National Championship win by the University of Alabama football team on January 11th, 2021. Twelve/25, as well as other bars, on that occasion had been charging a large sum to even get inside. Most of the estimated crowd of 5,000 on The Strip in January were not patrons of its bars. The Strip has become a gathering spot after football games for thousands of fans, at least in some part due to the many bars located there.

Is it too late for T-Town to do anything about the proliferation of bars on The Strip? The University of Alabama once tried to reduce the number of bars adjacent to its campus. But, since then, the number of bars on The Strip has exploded. There are no laws requiring any limits on the distance between bars on The Strip. Jason Morton explained:

Now, a City Council can approve an Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board license for a bar or restaurant, but it lacks the power to rescind it should that business act irresponsibly. Instead, the council’s only recourse is to revoke the business license, a process for which the Alabama courts have set a high standard.

When the 2021 Crimson Tide football season begins in September, will activities on The Strip be a further public safety concern? Stadium capacity for the A Day game was limited to 50,000 fans. In September Bryant Denny Stadium will be allowed to accommodate twice that many fans. After football games The Strip will be closed to vehicular traffic and packed with fans. The cost of maintaining public safety on game day weekends has been borne by the city and university. To some extent the policing of other areas in T-Town has been adversely effected. As Lee Busby has asked, “how many casualties” will be city be “willing to endure” as a result of making it so easy for people to consume alcohol?

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One thought on “A-Day game leads to chaos in T-Town

  1. Some people who’ve seen the image provided by the TPD might well assume that the crowd at the Twelve/25 Nle Choppa concert was largely black. A Youtube recording of the performance shows a largely white crowd, which is typical for most concerts on The Strip.

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